Playwright Crystal Skillman cleverly spins a musical family into rocking mayhem. The premise is the 25th anniversary of a rock legend’s fatal overdose. Since the demise of the late, great Melanie Singer, her three daughters have struggled in the shadow of her fame. Their own band, Dark Victory, broke up fifteen years ago from addiction complications. Now, Melanie’s granddaughter wants to get the band back together. The surprise reunion is a hotbed of emotion with sister-to-sister and mother-to-daughter angst. They are not in-tune with reuniting onstage in homage to the dead diva.
Skillman has created real, flawed humans. Each is a distinctly broken survivor. And under the skillful direction of Mitch Golob, each of these ladies jam out, individually and collectively. The crass and precocious Alison Hixson (Max) is bottled up teenage angst. She worships her aunt Kit (played by the fierce Annie Prichard). She bullies the delightfully animated Tyler Young (Nate). And she’s mad at her mom’s presence and haunted by her grandmother’s spirit. Throughout the show, Hixson is furiously trying to capture all this emotion into a song.
What makes this show legit is the actors aren’t just playing musicians. They are musicians. The hilariously high-energy Amber Kelly (Collins) struts to the beat of her own drum. Whether she is pounding the skins or probing the flesh, Kelly confidently conveys eccentric independence. Although she is the celebrity success of the sisters, Prichard is silently aloof until she epically unravels. It’s the ladies’ transformations that keeps us tethered to their stories. This is most apparent in Courtney Jones (Tanya). Jones is the uptight mother trying to keep Hixson grounded. And when sh#t hits the fans, Jones goes to her happy place and is suddenly this other chillax person. What I especially enjoyed about the sisters’ interactions was the strong binds. As each has a meltdown or three, the other sisters respond in forgiveness and understanding. There is a genuine humanity behind the music.
Although I enjoyed this dynamic show quite a bit, it could be tighter. There are moments that feel like true impulsive spontaneity especially around picking up instruments and playing separately or together. And then there are prolonged transitions or scenes with just watching Hixson write. These are noticeable speed bumps in an otherwise dynamic show. The pacing needs to be continuously fast and furious like the lifestyle and the music.
This show is definitely an infusion. It’s not just about a band reuniting. It’s about a family within a band reuniting. And it’s not just about the hip and cool life of rock stars. It’s about the addictive lifestyle that builds and destroys rock stars. And it’s not just about the music. It’s about the dark recesses of the soul that manifest into the music. ANOTHER KIND OF LOVE-A PUNK ROCK PLAY is something to see… and hear and feel.
Running Time: Two hours and ten minutes includes an intermission
At Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division
Written by Crystal Skillman
Original music by Heidi Rodewald
Lyrics by Caroline Dorsen and Crystal Skillman
Directed by Mitch Golob
Music direction by Jefferey Thomas
Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 7:30pm
Sundays at 3pm
Thru June 14th
Buy Tickets at www.InFusionTheatre.com
Photo by Tom McGrath
For more reviews and information on Chicago theatre, visit Theatre in Chicago.